Guatemala: Quirigua Archaeological Site
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Quirigua is an out of the way but truly spectacular and grand Mayan site, located in southcentral Guatemala. The city was populated between 200 and 850 AD, reaching its apogee in the 8th century and surpassing that of Copan. Until 738 AD, Quirigua was the vassal state of Copan, but in that year they captured the King of Copan and executed him on the Quirigua plaza, making the Quirigua kingdom a dominant Mayan power for the next century. While the pyramids and other structures are quite modest and simple compared to other Mayan sites, it’s the stelae that are stupendous here, quite like the ones in Copan, artistically carved and decorated and massive. And the cherry on the cake – we arrived 1/2 hour past the site’s closing but a little negotiation got us in – and we had the entire Quirigua all to ourselves for two hours at sunset – spectacular views and colors.